May 25, 2022

Public Libraries: How Minnesota’s Largest Public Library Ranks Nationally

Two reporters/researchers at the Minnesota Star-Tribune datamine and analyze IMLS data to learn how the Hennepin County Public Library ranks against its peer libraries nationally.

From the Article:

A Star Tribune analysis of national library data found that, among major U.S. library systems, few match the per-capita resources of Hennepin County. The analysis examined just those libraries serving more than 1 million people, based on data from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Measured just by population served, Hennepin County ranks 25th in the country with 1.19 million. Leading the pack is Maricopa County Library District, which serves more than 4 million people in the greater Phoenix area.

But on a per-capita basis, Hennepin has the third-most books (4.2 million), the fourth-most branches (40, excluding downtown’s Central Library), the fifth-most registered borrowers (839,727) and the seventh-most visitors (5.5 million).


The county ranked first in one prominent category: the number of computer terminals per capita.

Read the Complete Article, View Several Charts

Quick Comment from Gary Price, infoDOCKET Founder/Editor

One minor issue, the headline of the StarTribune story.

The actual headline of the story is, “Top of the Stacks: How Minnesota’s Largest Library Ranks Nationally.”

What’s wrong?

It does not qualify the type of library (a public library) making the headline technically incorrect.

Hennepin County is the largest PUBLIC library in the state. However, University of Minnesota Libraries is much larger library when it comes to total volumes held.

I said it was minor but it’s also something we see/read all of the time, a distinction between types of libraries in a news report. In most cases it’s minor and makes little difference. However, in this instance, it does matter if being correct is important to the news organization.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.